Is Marx right in his critique of capitalism? When we examine the current situation that exists in the U.S. at first glance, it may appear the Marx’s point is well taken. For example, on the one hand, Marx argues that the obvious economic inequities that are visible in our capitalistic society are due to structural or systemic issues that derive out of deliberate and unwavering class conflict.
Under the light of the current political banter from both parties here in the States, it would appear that, a deliberate and unwavering class conflict is exactly what we are witnessing in our country heading into the election. However, upon closer examination I believe that it is fair to ask, what is Marx specifically appraising about capitalism? Is he actually judging the system itself? Or the people who believe in it and prefer it as a way of life? Or is his criticism aimed at the polarizing outcomes which today’s media all too hastily gravitates toward? In my view, this media chooses these outcomes in order to sensationalize the depreciatory baseness of human society in America. I highly doubt that this is what Marx had in mind. Perhaps, Marx recognized that when some people possess much more of the wealth than others, a brand of conservatism emerges among the empowered class that seeks to devour those with less. Isn’t that what is describes to us in Amos 2:6-7?
On the other hand, an even the harsher criticism is leveled by Marx against capitalism. It is that, “capitalism, simply, generates the brutalization of society through its ongoing revolution of economic life. These internal dynamics of the capitalist system produce, in turn, the most tragic social contradictions.” He goes on to say, that we must free ourselves from capitalism, while recommending his own system of communism. (a system which has since failed). Nevertheless, one still has to ask whether Marx assessment holds any merit. Namely, that capitalism itself generates the brutalization of society?
As I consider Marx’s statement itself, and I attempted to set aside my personal ideological baggage, I am reminded of the admonition of the apostle Paul, who warned that, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” I Timothy 6:10. The question I ask myself is, could this biblical truth actually serve to sum up what Marx saw as the natural consequence of a society that is driven by profit and free enterprise? While I don’t believe that one could know that for sure, the question does at least give one pause to consider the issue.
At the end of the day, for me, whether Marx was right about capitalism or not isn’t as important as the observation that I came away with as a result of this week’s reading. It seems to me that, despite the system a given society chooses, in the end humanity faces the same ultimate outcome. FAILURE! Human beings are not perfect, and therefore are by default, incapable of producing a perfect system. Further, the harder we trench our faith into a system the more obvious human baseness appears. Perhaps that is truly the peril we face in the U.S. today. Maybe, we are so trenched into the system of capitalism and free markets that what has emerged is the baseness of humanity in political form. If we’re not vigilant, we can succumb to the deliberate and unwavering assault of class conflict. In that case, there is only ONE invisible hand can save us!